AGR dues: Telcos may have to pay principal and penalty amounts immediately

Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing next week on the telecom operators' plea on their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) outstandings, the Department of Telecom (DoT) is readying the payment schedule for the telcos whereby they may have to pay the principal and penalty amounts immediately, official sources said on Friday.

Though this standby payment plan is being readied, everything, however, depends on the apex court decision, the sources added.

Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL), Bharti Airtel (Airtel) and Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTL) jointly filed a modification application in the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking more time to pay their AGR dues to the government which stands at Rs 1.02 lakh crore.

They are expected to present a definite payment plan for the court's consideration and the DoT is expected to respond according to the court decision.

"DoT is waiting for the Supreme Court hearing and its directions next week. But at the same time it has made a roadmap as well, that if the honorable court allows telcos to negotiate with the government on the AGR payment schedule, DoT may ask them to clear the principal and penalty amount immediately and interest amount can be given over the next few weeks, as decided," an official said.

This payment schedule not be staggered over a six-month period, while the schedule only be finalised after the Supreme Court decision next week, the source added.

This news is bound to dash the hopes of operators like Airtel or Vodafone Idea who are hoping that the government spreads out the AGR due payments over a long period between 10-20 years.

The penalty and interest amount forms 80 per cent of the total individual dues.

The total AGR dues of Airtel are Rs 35,500 crore. Airtel had said that as of September 30, it has provisioned for Rs 34,260 crore as liabilities from AGR that comprise the principal of Rs 8,747 crore, interest of Rs 15,446 crore, penalty of Rs 3,760 crore and interest on penalty of Rs 6,307 crore.

Vodafone Idea faces an AGR due of Rs 53,038 crore, including Rs 24,729 crore as spectrum usage charges (SUC), and Rs 28,309 crore towards licence fees. The company's board recently approved modifications in the use of their Rs 25,000-crore rights issue proceeds to pay Rs 2,826.1 crore towards the AGR dues.

Airtel has raised $3 billion through equity and debt funds from investors for paying AGR dues.

(Anjana Das can be contacted at )



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